The ILO participated in an online event on the economic and employment effects of COVID-19 on young people, organized by the European Youth Forum. Young people have been harder hit by the crisis than adults. “The pandemic is inflicting multiple shocks on young people,” said Niall O’higgins, Senior Research Specialist at the ILO.
As new vacancies are heavily restricted, young job seekers are facing increasing difficulties to transition to decent jobs. The measures taken to stem the spread of the virus are disrupting their education and training. Young workers are also concentrated in sectors that are most heavily impacted by the economic recession provoked by the pandemic.
In many EU Member States, the share of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) has increased in the second quarter of 2020, compared to the second quarter of 2019.
The global economic and financial crisis led to a rapid rise in long-term youth unemployment. From 2014 onwards, the recovery in youth employment meant an expansion in less stable non-standard forms of employment: part-time and temporary employment.
Young people are always heavily impacted by economic recessions, but this time, the pandemic is causing economic disruption at an unprecedented speed and scale and young people are disproportionately affected. The danger of a ‘lock-down generation’ is looming.
Macro-level large scale investments are needed to direct recovery with supportive micro-level active labour market policies. It is important to boost youth employment opportunities through increased investment in job creation (including in the digital and green economies). Governments should use this occasion to invest in appropriate areas with a potential for the future. Targeted support measures are needed in sectors with high levels of youth employment.
Policymakers should also focus on demand-side labour market policies and programmes. Until now, policies have mainly focused on income support and job retention. “As the recovery proceeds, we need to move towards more active measures for job creation,” said Mr O’higgins. Also, a combination of subsidized employment with training and re-skilling typically produces the best outcomes.
“We need to avoid a ‘lock-down generation’, by focusing on the more vulnerable in the labour market and protecting young people’s entry into employment and their employment rights,” he concluded.